Remember the Controversy Over Rascal Flatts’ Nude Video? [NSFW]
Rascal Flatts aren't exactly the band you think of first when it comes to controversy. But the trio actually got banned early in their career after a major flap erupted over a video some viewers and outlets thought was too hot for TV.
The year was 2003, and the then-rising stars had just released "I Melt," a sexy song that served as the third single from their sophomore album, Melt. Flatts singer Gary LeVox wrote the song with Wendell Mobley and Neil Thrasher, and the lyrics alone were pretty racy for country radio at that time: "When you light those candles / Up there on that mantle / Setting the mood / I just lie there staring, silently preparing / To love on you / I can feel the heat from across the room / Ain't it wild what a little flame can make you wanna do."
That was nothing compared to the video, which the trio of LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney traveled to Florida with directors Robert Deaton and George Flanigan to shoot. The sultry clip shows model Christina Auria nude in the shower, and later in the video, she is shown topless from the side in silhouette as she gets into bed.
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Rooney stars opposite her in the video, and his bare backside is ever-so-briefly visible in the clip, which became the first video in CMT history to show nudity when the network began airing it in June 2003. The scenes are shot artfully so they aren't too revealing, but even so, the "I Melt" video would probably still cause controversy even today.
The group were surprised when they began to receive criticism from viewers who objected to the notion that their kids might see the clip. The flap made national news, and even USA Today wrote a story about it.
“I gotta be honest, I think we’re a little surprised that there seems to be this air of controversy,” DeMarcus told CMT News at the time. “We just thought it was a great, steamy, sexy video. We didn’t realize that people were gonna be up in arms about it the way they have.”
Rooney was chosen for the role because he was the only band member who was unattached at the time. He told CMT he was nervous about the role, but didn't think it was a big deal.
"I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was uncomfortable a little bit, because I’ve never done that before,” he admitted. “I just thought, you know, ‘Why not do it? It might be fun. It might be interesting.’”
Great American Country ended up banning the "I Melt" video when Rascal Flatts refused to release an edited version, but it didn't appear to damage them. "I Melt" reached No. 2 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, and made it all the way to No. 1 on CMT's Top Twenty Countdown.
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